You’ll need a reservation, but the new buzz restaurant in Williamsburg, Lilia, is not to be missed. Stand-out dishes include the Grilled Clams appetizer, Sheeps Milk Cheese Filled Agnolotti, Veal Steak with Long Peppers and Rigatoni Diavola but you really can’t go wrong. The dining room is elegant and large and the chef, Missy Robbins, is famous for being the Obama’s favorite restauranteer. When the food is this exquite, it would be ashame to only enjoy Lilia on special occassions.
“Authentically inauthentic Jewish and Japanese food in South Williamsburg.” It’s an odd pairing, but somehow everything seems to fit. (Who doesn’t want to try matzo ball ramen!) The menu changes daily but some popular dishes include Panko-Caraway Lamb Ribs, Weakfish Sashimi Salad, Pastrami-Stuffed Chicken and a Lox Bowl. Reservations recommended.
With its pre-prohibition era décor and the best Old Fashioned we’ve ever tasted (theirs is made with rye, of course) Rye is a hidden gem. Don’t miss the meatloaf sandwich — it’s made with ground veal, pork, short rib, and duck and comes with house-made pickles. It’s decadent, but amazing. Rye makes a great Bloody Mary too, with a touch of anise, which goes perfect with their Sunday brunch.
Tucked away beneath the Williamsburg bridge in the increasingly posh South Williamsburg, Marlow & Sons has been pleasing crowds for nearly a decade. The bar’s back room feels like a saloon and expect great wine, oysters, exquisite service, and a small menu with classic American fare. (Locally-sourced of course). It can get a little tight on the weekends, but the food is worth the wait. Don’t miss the brick chicken, which sounds boring, but is quite exquisite. A great place for a romantic date.
Prepare to wait in line, but if you’re hankering for a no-frills plate of meat served by the pound, you’ll love Fette Sau. We recommend the pork belly which is hands-down the best (and most fatty) thing on the menu. Otherwise, avoid ribs and meat served on the bone — everything is good, but you are paying by the pound after all. On the downside, the potato salad and the other sides are generally flavorless.
Spotted Pig veteran Nate Smith, opens a no-frills locavore joint just off the main Bedford drag. And it’s darn good. Formerly a polish diner that looks more like an Eastern European hunting lodge, Allswell is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Menu varies from night to night, so be sure to check their website. Brunch is especially good and nowhere near as crowded as many other Williamsburg favorites.
Brooklyn Star serves up comfort food with a Nawlins twist. Must have dishes include the Molasses Brined Pork Chop and their fantastic fried chicken. Their brunch is very popular and offers up a mean bloody mary. On Sundays and Mondays, they serve fried chicken family style for 20 bucks – sides included. A Williamsburg gem. (One warning, vegetarians will not have any options here.)
St. Anselm reopened in 2011 with an all-new menu and the difference shows. From the owners of Spuyten Duyvil and Fette Sau, St. Anselm is now an essential Williamsburg dining experience. As NY Mag points out, the wines are as amazing as the food: As impressive as St. Anselm is on the food front, it’s even more so on the wine. If Spuyten Duyvil demonstrates Joe Carroll’s exceptional beer geekery and Fette Sau his fluency with American whiskeys, then St. Anselm proves that he’s also a major oenophile with ecstatically offbeat taste and the guts to veer away from big-ticket Bordeaux and Napa Cab convention. His list itself is worthy of multiple trips, if only to sample rare by-the-glass selections of “yellow” wines from the Jura (vinified like fino sherry), “orange” wine from Friuli-Venezia (tinted by exposure to white-grape skins), and draft picks from two of the region’s most experimental producers (Red Hook Winery and Channing Daughters). Visionary winemakers both present and past populate the list, from Abe Schoener to Dr. Konstantin Frank, but what really sets it apart is the array of half-bottles, nearly five dozen opportunities to match each course, be it fish or fowl or succulent red meat, to its perfect pairing.
This spacious beer hall definitely fills up with bros and tourists on most nights, but it’s worth it for the food. The sausages are cheap and the best we’ve had in the city. If you’re interested in an entree, we recommend the Spicy Hungarian Goulash and Dumplings or the Grilled Smoked Pork Chop.
You won’t find anything kosher on the menu – bacon donuts, baby back ribs, fois gras with egg and bacon, scallops – and that’s the point. In Yiddish, the name refers to foods that are forbidden by Jewish dietary laws, so it’s not too popular with the local Hasidim. A very eclectic and delicious menu for experimental eaters who love their pork and shellfish.
There’s a reason that this recently-opened restaurant just received a Michelin star. Chef Patti Jackson features traditional Mid-Atlantic and New England recipes “from Baltimore to Buffalo” in a laid-back dining room with flavors that are polished but still homey. She shines with her desserts (green tomato pie!) but dishes like ricotta dumplings, roasted pork loin, and roasted hen-o’-the-woods are all fantastic. (The menu is always changing). The one catch is that you can’t order a la carte, but since the tasting menu is only $48 for four courses, we’re not complaining.
Yet another reason to travel to the Graham Avenue stop, Mesa Coyoacan has amazing, inventive Mexican food that is among the best we’ve had in all five boroughs. The Pollo Pipian is fantastic and we keep going back for the refreshing cucumber margarita. Though the shared tables can at times feel a bit cramped — sit at the bar unless you have a group — the stellar food keeps us returning for more.
Located near the rustic Williamsburg Bridge, when you step into Diner, which inhabits a refurbished 1926-dining car, you’re immediately transported to another era. Serving American Nouveau food, the menu appears sparse at first until you realize that each entrée is a constantly changing special of the day. Brunch is our favorite meal there, although the dinner ranks pretty high on our list as well.
Sweet Chick is the brainchild of John Seymour who also owns Pop’s of Brooklyn. The menu offers classic soul food staples (all organic) such as roasted pork tenderloin, dry-aged rib eye, & grilled fish in addition to chicken & waffles. In terms of your waffle choice, you can order a regular buttermilk Belgian-style waffle, bacon + cheddar cheese, rosemary mushroom, or the special seasonal waffle. Delicious sides includes buttermilk biscuits, spicy shoestring french fries, ritz-cracker crusted mac and cheese, and pickled watermelon.
RUNNERS-UP IN WILLIAMSBURG
BACI & ABBRICI – Love the food, especially the perfect homemade lasagna.
BAMONTE’S – Old world Soprano’s setting — stick to the homemade pastas and absorb the scenery.
BOZU – Sit at the bar at this cozy Japanese joint and enjoy a handful of their small plates. We love the pork belly and the shrimp dumplings, but you can’t go wrong with the sushi either.
BROOKLYN BOWL – Bowling alleys aren’t generally known for their food, but most don’t have award-winning chefs cooking for them either.
THE COMMODORE – More of a bar vibe, but go for the fried chicken.
CUBANA SOCIAL – We dream at night about their slow roasted pork — our favorite pork dish in a pork-obsessed town.
D.O.C. WINE BAR – Romantic and perfect for wine and snacks.
DOTORY – Great Korean food. Try the savory pancakes!
FORNINI – Sublime brick oven pizza. (Now in Greenpoint too)
KINGS COUNTY IMPERIAL – Chinese food made with care in a lovely setting and Tiki-style cocktails.
MABLE’S SMOKEHOUSE – Less expensive than Fette Sau and Briskettown and more fun.
MAISSON PREMIERE – The best oysters in Williamsburg and only a buck a pop during happy hour. This would have made our top 20, but it’s more of a bar than a restaurant.
MOTORINO – They’re back in a new South Williamsburg location with amazing artisinal pies!
PETER’S SINCE 1969 – Great meatloaf and yummy sides when you want comfort in a hurry.
SALTIE – Great sandwiches in a cute storefront.
Ramen Yebisu – Some of the best ramen in all of NYC. Delicious!
REYNARD – Great seasonal bistro fare in a beautiful restored warehouse setting.
TABARE – Great food from Uruguay served by some very nice people in a quaint and romantic spot.
WALTER FOODS – One of our favorite brunch spots and a great raw bar. Don’t miss the catfish and the french dip for dinner.
ZENKICHI – Wins for best atmosphere and for the best place to take a date. Dark, shadowy and filled with mirrors and hidden rooms, you’ll feel like you’re in a 40s film noir. Plus the Japanese tapas served here are great.
The understated space is warm and inviting, with black and white tiled floors, a raw bar, and a marble bar. Up front, Vinny Milburn is in charge of the market featuring fresh locally-sourced seafood and in the back Adam Geringer-Dunn runs the kitchen. The bar features a handful of craft beers and a small, but lovingly-curated selection of wines that pair well with oysters and the other light fare on the menu. You won’t find a better lobster roll anywhere in New York.
The stand-out dish at this deep Greenpoint newcomer is the rabbit for two. (It’s amazing). But Glasserie aims to please and serves many Mediterranean-inspired vegetarian dishes as well, such as Rice with yogurt, hen of the woods & toasted nuts. The space is beautiful — it’s inside a refurbished industrial glass factory beside Newton Creek. Don’t miss their flaky flat-bread to accompany your entree. Glasserie is our favorite restaurant in Greenpoint.
The only place in New York where we don’t mind waiting 45 minutes to eat pizza. It’s that good. (Plus we can always meander next door for craft beer at Brouwerij Lane while we wait.) Paulie’s brick oven pies, served up in a beautifully renovated warehouse that looks more like a barn you’d find in upstate New York, are our favorite Brooklyn. Sorry Robertas. Start with the Greenpointer — a white pie with Fior di Latte, Baby Arugula, Olive Oil, Fresh Lemon Juice and Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano — and be sure to try one of the pies that has hot honey on it. Wash it all down with one of the many craft beers they have on the menu. A true Greenpoint gem.
Our favorite Australian/American Café sits right on the border of Greenpoint and Williamsburg and serves eclectic food at all hours of the day. Fresh flowers are everywhere you look, and the décor is nautically themed which is always a plus in our books. Though seasonal entrees are sublime don’t miss the burger! Our favorite pancakes are from here on the weekend brunch menu, but we also love the truffle fries.
RUNNERS-UP IN GREENPOINT
ACAPULCO – Amazing old school Mexican joint. Don’t miss the chorizo tacos and the house-made guac.
ALAMEDA – Our favorite burger in a beautifully-designed setting.
ANELLA – Tasty locavore fare in a low-traffic area of Greenpoint.
CALEXICO – Great tacos and margaritas.
KARCZMA – When you want traditional Polish fare.
NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS – Great drinks and the nachos with fried plantains are to die for.
RIVER STYX – Tasty american fare close to Transmitter Park. Don’t miss the nachos.
Dear Bushwick is a wonderful newish-comer to the neighborhood and is one of the more romantic and cozy places you’ll find in all of Brooklyn. The owner refers to this gastropub as “England meets Vermont” which sounds about right to us. Four words: get the pork chop. It’s served with acorn squash (or sometimes brussel sprouts) in a bacon-y vinaigrette and it’s divine when paired with a creamy Innis and Gunn.
You’ll feel like you’ve been invited to a farmhouse in Vermont, until you taste the brick oven pizza which will transport you to Italy. Many ingredients are grown on premises in the garden outside. This is our favorite restaurant in Bushwick. Start with a pizza to share and be sure to try one of the seasonal entrees. The Times call Roberta’s “one of the more extraordinary restaurants in the United States.” We agree.
RUNNERS-UP IN BUSHWICK
BUNNA – Fantastic and fresh Ethiopian food.
FARO – Delicious homemade pastas from the people behind Northeast Kingdom.
NORTHEAST KINGDOM – One of our favorite brunch spots and along with Roberta’s and Dear Bushwick is helping to raise the bar for great food in Bushwick.
OKIWAY - Savory Japanese pancakes!
MOMO SUSHI SHACK – Great Japanese sushi and small plates, from the people who run Bozu.
ACCESS ALL OF OUR LISTINGS AT WWW.FREEWILLIAMSBURG.COM/LISTINGS
Contact us at [email protected] for any questions/comments.